Role in Ravensworth – owner Parcel 1.2.3
Mary Caroline Goldsborough was the fifth of ten children born to Robert Henry and Henrietta Maria (Nichols) Goldsborough of Myrtle Grove in Easton, Maryland.1 She was adopted by Anna Maria (Goldsborough) and William Henry Fitzhugh, and apparently lived with them at Ravensworth for some time. We know of the adoption from William Henry’s 1830 will, which refers to her as “…my highly valued and sincerely beloved friend…whom at the very early period of her life, I adopted in the spirit of the sincerest affection as my daughter.” He and Anna Maria married in 1814; when Mary came to live with them and for how long is not known.
Mary’s father Robert Henry Goldsborough and Anna Maria’s mother Elizabeth were brother and sister, children of Mary Emerson (Trippe) and Robert Goldsborough III. Robert Henry served two terms in the U.S. Senate from 1813 to 1818 and again from 1833 until his death in 1836.2 No sources have been found that explain why a child from a prominent family of apparent means would have placed Mary to be adopted by her cousin. Perhaps the several closely spaced children in their growing family and Anna Maria’s and William Henry’s lack of a child is enough explanation.
In June 1831, Mary was a bridesmaid in the wedding of William Henry’s cousin Mary Custis to Lieutenant Robert E. Lee.3 Mary appears to not have ever married.
Inherited 1300 Ravensworth Acres
She was 22 when William Henry Fitzhugh died in 1830. His will bequeated her an estimated 1300 acres of Ravensworth land (Parcel 1.2.3) – called Pohick farm – plus money, farming equipment, stock, and the services of a slave family to work it.
In Deed Q3:154 of November 1849, she granted the Orange and Alexandria Railroad permission to build the new railroad through her Ravensworth property. It allowed a right of way of up to 80 feet width (120 feet for deep cuts and fills) and use of up to one and a half acres for any building site. She received one dollar token payment in keeping with the claim in the deed that “…passage of said Railroad will increase the value of her property and be otherwise beneficial to her.”
By 1850, according to several deeds, Mary was living in Easton, Maryland close to or perhaps with her birth family at Myrtle Grove. Between 1850 and 1856, Mary sold her entire Ravensworth holdings in four transactions to Hiram Sipperly (Parcel 22.214.171.124), Richard H. Dulvaney (Parcel 126.96.36.199), Henry Daingerfield (Parcel 188.8.131.52 – included Orange and Alexandria Railroad right of way) and William Ashford (Parcel 184.108.40.206).
In 1899 after her death, the Episcopal Diocese of Easton published notice that Mary in her will had left legacies totaling $2000 “toward the establishing of a Parish School.”4
- Robert Henry Goldsborough – rootsweb.ancestory.com. ↩
- Biographical Directory of the U. S. Congress (online): Robert Henry Goldsborough ↩
- Bradley Gilman, Robert E. Lee (The Macmillan Company, 1915), 25 – Google Books. ↩
- Directory of the Diocese of Easton and Journal of the … Annual Convention, Volumes 26-31, Appendix D-II, 121 – Google Books. ↩